OTTUMWA — The 41st state senate seat will stay red after a special election on Tuesday.
Republican Adrian Dickey, president of Dickey Transport in Packwood, won the seat by a 966-vote margin over Democrat Mary Stewart, of Ottumwa.
State Senate District 41 was previously held by Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who resigned after being provisionally seated in the U.S. House of Representatives for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.
Dickey won three of the four counties that the 41st district includes. The eastern half of Wapello, including Ottumwa, was for Dickey by a narrow margin: 1,752 to 1,678. Stewart carried Jefferson County by 409 votes.
The final unofficial tally on the night was 5,040 votes for Dickey and 4,074 for Stewart.
The senate seat was the only vacant one in the Iowa Legislature. The special election on Tuesday was to fill the remainder of the term. The Republican victory means the Iowa Senate will continue to see a 32-18 GOP majority.
Iowa’s Republican Party spent considerable money in the race. Through Friday, Dickey had received $124,357.46 in in-kind contributions from the Republican Party of Iowa. The money went toward advertising campaigns through TV, radio and newspapers, as well as mailed flyers. Dickey raised another $3,260 with public contributions.
In contrast, when Miller-Meeks ran for the seat in 2018 she had in-kind contributions totaling $152,037.67 from the Iowa Republican Party.
The contributions for Dickey were 10 times the amount the Iowa Democratic Party contributed toward Stewart, which was $12,843.60 as of Friday according to campaign disclosures. Stewart raised another $16,848.77 in public contributions.
In a Facebook concession, Stewart told her supporters to "continue to work for truth and integrity in government, and to fight for laws and policies that build Iowa up rather than tear it down."
In an interview with the Courier before Tuesday’s election, Dickey, 47, said he was a core conservative that was running on lower taxes and smaller government. He described himself as pro-life and considers the rights to free religion and the Second Amendment as important.
A volunteer firefighter for 29 years, Dickey said he hopes to raise the tax credit given to Iowa’s volunteer first responders. The credit is currently a “measly” $100, he said. He hopes to push it to $1,000, provided the state has a budget surplus.
Stewart, a lifelong educator and southern Iowa resident, was hoping to contribute her experience from Indian Hills Community College to the discussion at the state capitol.
From Washington, Miller-Meeks sent her congratulations to Dickey in a statement, saying she believes he will work hard to represent the people in southeast Iowa.
The results will need to be certified by the county, and then the state, prior to Dickey taking office at the Iowa Capitol. He would need to run again in 2022 for election to a full term.
The Iowa Democratic Party said in a statement they believed the election still sent "a major wake up call for Iowa Republicans," citing that Donald Trump had carried the district by 19%. The lower margin of victory for the Republican candidate in the senate race, they said, shows "more and more Iowans every day are rejecting the divisive, partisan agenda Governor Reynolds and Republicans are pursuing at the Statehouse instead of helping Iowans recover from COVID-19."
The Iowa Republican Party had a different take: saying that even with a snowstorm "nothing will stop Iowans from making their voices heard" and that the election results showed "voters support the GOP agenda."